Book Blurbs: May 2019

Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope by Trevin Wax (published by Moody, 2011). 226 pages. Ever heard of the therapeutic gospel? Judgmentaless gospel? Moralistic gospel? Quietist gospel? Activist gospel? Churchless gospel? Each of these false gospels are being propagated today and this book addresses each of them with biblical insights, honest critiques and suggestions for how to protect ourselves from believing or modeling these gospels to others. The only criticism I have of the book is the chapter on the churchless gospel (Chapter 9). While the author had some good concerns about professing Christians not attending church on a regular basis or that segment of society that loathes the institutionalized church, I am not convinced that we should call that a false gospel. Seems more like a heart issue to me. Other than that, this book is a helpful read on the modern evangelical movement. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent by Erwin W. Lutzer (published by Harvest House, 2013). 253 pages. With the rise of Islam across the globe, books like this are becoming more important for the church. This book will equip you in understanding the basics of Islam (both conservative and liberal), what kinds of challenges Christians face with a growing Islam, and how we can be a more faithful witness to our Islamic neighbors, co-workers, etc. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

Passions of the Heart: Biblical Counsel for Stubborn Sexual Sins by John D. Street (published by P& R Publishing, 2013). 308 pages. This book is one I need to read again…soon. It is heavy – not that it is difficult to understand, but the author gives real help on sexual sins and he does it with thoroughness. What a tremendous resource this will be for counselors, pastors, and anyone who struggles with any form of sexual immorality. Street gets to the heart issues of sexual sin and gives practical insights on how to build religious affections to help mortify those sins. Street’s strength in writing is giving hope and encouragement for lasting change. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us by Karl Vaters (published by New Small Church, 2012). 212 pages. I wanted this book to encourage, inspire and correct my thinking. It didn’t. I was a bit frustrated at times with the author repeating himself repeatedly. His thesis – that small churches needs to stop thinking like big churches – is good but then it seemed that most authors or pastors or churches that he endorsed were from megachurches. So, I was a little confused there. He didn’t really give as much practical ecclesiology for the small church pastor(s) as I had hoped. The book felt more like a cycle of “I’m a small church pastor,” “I was jealous of big churches,” “We should celebrate one another’s ministries”, etc. BOOK RATING: 6 out of 10 stars.

Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt (published by Crossway, 2015). 254 pages. What frustrated me about this book on discipleship is that I don’t believe it helped form techniques or approaches to discipleship at all – and that seemed to be one of the aims of the book. The book read more like a series of stories of how the author and other Christians are just living ordinary life as Christians together. He used the word “intentionality” often, but it seemed more life stories of “informal hang out time” than intentional time. I suppose my definition of being intentional when it comes to discipleship is different from his. If you want a few ideas of how to enjoy being with Christians, this book can help. But if you are looking for a book teaching you how to make disciples, look elsewhere. BOOK RATING: 5 out of 10 stars.

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